Sutton-upon-Derwent teenager Ashley Slights made an outstanding start to the season-opener of the BTRDA Rally First championship, the Team GMF Wyedean Forest Rally on Saturday.
Over 180 cars competed in the Chepstow-based rally, which saw crews battling it out over 7 stages totalling 45 competitive stage miles in the Forest of Dean.
Piloting his championship-winning RF1.4 Toyota Yaris; young Slights charged to an early lead of the Rally First class, with an 8 second advantage over closest-rival Chris Hellings. It was an extremely positive start to both the rally and the season, which 18-year old Ashley was happy with.
“I got into a good rhythm from the beginning. Although I hadn’t competed on a rally for a good few months, everything just clicked into place. We slowly built on our times, and by SS3 we had a 1m 7 second lead.”
The only drama of the day was when Ashley and Pocklington co-driver Tom Hughes hit a rock on SS3 Speech House. The impact damaged a front wheel rim, but didn’t damage his blistering pace.
Slights and Hughes went on to prove that they were the crew to beat on the remaining stages of the rally, consistently maintaining their pace.
“After repairing the minor damage to the wheel in service, we went on to have a clean run through the 3 remaining stages to finish 2min 12 seconds clear in the Rally First 1.4 class. I was also really happy to finish 5th overall in the 1400 category, with a good fight between some quicker cars and experienced crews.”
Backed by Swift Group Ltd, Proflex UK, S. Harrison Developments Ltd, Philliskirk Drainage Ltd and Slights Rally Sport, this was the start to the season that the young crew were hoping for.
Ashley and Tom now go to the next round of the BTRDA Rally First Championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with maximum points.
“We really can’t wait for the Malcolm Wilson Rally after the fantastic weekend and result. I’d like to thank Tom for his hard work co-driving and also all of my sponsors and team.This is the start to the season I had been hoping for.”
The Malcolm Wilson Rally takes place on the 5th March and is based in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth, home of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.